Sump Pump Vs. Gravity: How To Get The Water Out Of Your Drain Tile
Whether you are building a new home or updating the foundation waterproofing on an older building, you may be wondering whether your exterior drain tile will require the assistance of a motorized pump or if it can depend on gravity. Unlike interior drain tiles, most exterior drain tiles can rely solely on gravity to clear the drainage pipe into a dedicated sump or garden area. However, there are instances when you will need the assistance of a pump to clear the water from your system.
Whether you will use gravity or a pump to clear your exterior drain tile depends primarily on the placement of your home in relation to your plot. If your home is built on the upside of a slope and you have at least twenty feet of land down from the edge of your home, you can most likely allow your pipe to drain on your property. This can be done in a sump or by allowing the water to openly drain into a garden area.
If you are using gravity to drain your pipe, you do not need a large slope. A slope as little as 1" for every 10' of pipe will be enough to drain your pipe. Some contractors will insist that you can install your pipe completely level and the water will simply follow the path of least resistance out of the drain tile. While this is true for the water, any particles of earth that enter the pipe will need the extra assistance of a gentle slope to exit the pipe.
If you do not have enough slope on your property or your house is built on the lower edge of your property, you will need to install an electric pump to move the water to a designated sump outside of your home. Since the electric pump will most likely be housed in your basement, you will need to install a small pipe through your foundation wall into the basement area. This is easiest to do during construction, as opposed to drilling a hole after construction.
Both a pumped and gravity-dependent drain tile have maintenance issues that add to their cost.
A pump must be maintained every 3-4 months by cleaning the screen and checking for proper functionality. A more thorough check of your system and replacement of any worn parts should be done once a year. Additionally, pumps are depended on electricity. You may need to install a generator for your pump if there is a risk of your home losing power during storms, which is when your pump will be needed most.
A gravity-dependent drain will need to be cleaned with a pressurized hose every 2-3 years. This involves opening your system and snaking a hose around the diameter of your home. If you do this maintenance regularly, you should not have any buildups in your pipe that would require you to dig into the drain tile and replace a section of piping. Pumped systems will also need this type of maintenance, but you can usually wait a longer period between cleanings, such as every 3-4 years depending on your soil and climate.
Both systems will require you to regularly check your basement or crawl space for signs of failure. If you notice moist spots on your foundation walls or feel a dampness in the air of your basement, you should call a professional to check your drain tile for blockages or other failures. You should check your basement on a monthly basis, and always check to make sure that your system is working after large storms.
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